Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a disease that causes a sometimes uncontrollable urge to move ones legs or other limbs, affects up to 10% of Americans. Most of the people affected by restless leg syndrome are over 45, and women and Caucasian people are more likely to be affected. There may be a form of RLS with a genetic component, and this is most likely the form that affects children.
Although itâ€™s not a dangerous disease, restless leg syndrome can severely impact quality of life, causing discomfort, insomnia, and difficulty in situations where sitting a long time is required (such as at meetings or while traveling).
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome and How Is It Diagnosed?
RLS is diagnosed entirely off of what you tell your doctor-thereâ€™s no way to confirm it. However, your doctor may perform tests to rule out other diseases of which RLS is a symptom.
To have restless leg syndrome, you must:
- Have uncomfortable sensations in your legs that cause the urge to move, which is strong or unavoidable.
- The leg discomfort is brought on by resting (sitting or lying down), and gets worse the longer you rest.
- Although movement relieves symptoms, it does not last once you start resting again.
- Symptoms are worse during the evenings/at night but better in the morning.
The discomfort RLS causes legs is variously described, and will likely be different between people, especially adults and children. Some examples include: tingling, bubbling, gnawing, creeping, aching, pulling, searing, tugging, throbbing, electric shocks…
Most often, the lower legs are affected, but restless leg syndrome can also affect upper legs, arms, trunk, and the head, and may or may not affect both sides of the body evenly. Restless leg symptoms severity can vary over time.
Restless leg symptoms usually last for an hour or more. Those with RLS often also have rhythmic leg movements while they sleep.
What Causes RLS, and Who Is More At Risk?
Restless leg syndrome is thought to be neurological, but very little is known. People with a family history of RLS are at higher risk, as well as anyone taking certain medications, or with a condition that can cause nerve damage or impair the balance of certain nutrients in the brain, such as iron, which is used to make dopamine, which controls limb movements.
Other conditions that are related to restless leg syndrome include:
- The third trimester of pregnancy, although RLS often resolves after birth
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Kidney Disease (RLS often goes away after a kidney transplant)
- Peripheral Neuropathy (a disease which affects nerve function, sometimes leading to pain and an inability to control muscles)
Treating related conditions can relieve restless leg syndrome. Although RLS symptoms get worse over time in most cases, for people with a related condition RLS can become more severe more quickly.
What Are Some Restless Leg Syndrome Medications?
Since restless leg syndrome has no known cause and the experience can vary from person to person, anyone considering an RLS medication will likely have to experiment to find one that works.
Medications can vary from treatments for Parkinsonâ€™s, to targeting neurological imbalances, to tranquilizers. Some people report that when the medication stops working (after months or years) restless leg symptoms worsen and spread, but that discontinuing the medication can help.
The severity of your symptoms and their impact on your life should be a major consideration when considering medications.
Natural Restless Leg Syndrome Remedies
First, keep written track of the frequency and severity of your RLS, as well as what you think triggered it, and anything you did that helped it. Make sure to talk to your doctor about related conditions, especially iron deficiency-itâ€™s better to know that you need iron before taking an iron supplement.
Alcohol, caffeine and tobacco can all worsen symptoms. Depending on the severity of their effects, consider discontinuing their use.
Stress can worsen RLS, so take steps to reduce stress in your life (Click Here for Stress Management Tips).
Make sure that you are eating a balanced diet, especially if you are vegan/vegetarian. Make a point of including iron, folate, and magnesium in your diet, or take a supplement to make sure that you are meeting your daily requirements.
Having a nighttime regime and good sleeping habits can help-people who fall asleep quickly are less affected by their RLS. Reducing light, noise and going through some relaxation techniques can help. (For more in-depth sleep tips click here)
Warming or cooling your muscles with a bath or heating pad/ice pack may help relax muscles. Massage may also help both for relaxing you and your muscles.
Include yoga in your regular workout routine-it helps gently stretch muscles, improve blood flow, and reduce stress. It may also help to learn stretches for dealing with RLS outside of exercising.
Supplements to Consider with Regard to RLS:
Calm MGRx is designed to support the nervous system with regard to imbalances that cause stress and anxiety.
Nite MGR is a non-addictive sleep aid which works by supporting your brain with the nutrients it needs during sleep.
Both Calm MGRx and Nite MGR contain precursors to dopamine.
Mesogold is a Colloidal Gold supplement that has been reported to improve brain function.
There has been some controversy as to the legitimacy of restless leg syndrome as a medical condition-enough so that there is a movement to change the name of the condition to something more serious. Have you or anyone you know suffered from RLS, and if so, what helped? Was it ultimately caused by another condition, or did the experience support RLS as itâ€™s own condition and not a symptom? Join the conversation below!